Lambert to get England call - or will Hodgson leave him out again despite being so short of strikers? (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Lambert to get England call - or will Hodgson leave him out again despite being so short of strikers?
7:54am Thursday 8th August 2013 in Football
ANDY Carroll is injured, Jermain Defoe is a doubt, and Daniel Sturridge has only just returned from a knock - but will Roy Hodgson pick Rickie Lambert when he names his England squad for next week's friendly with Scotland?
There were calls for Lambert to get the nod last season as he finished his first ever Premier League season as the division's leading English-qualified marksman with 15 goals.
New Manchester United man Wilfried Zaha is expected to earn his second international call-up, but the England manager has to make a tough call on whether to include the striker's team-mate Wayne Rooney as well.
This time last year Zaha was preparing to play at Exeter for Crystal Palace in the first round of the Capital One Cup, but he could now play at Wembley for the third time in just over two months.
Zaha rounded off another impressive season for Palace by leading them to play-off glory in May and he is likely to feature at Wembley for his new club Manchester United in the Community Shield match against Wigan on Sunday.
He is then expected to earn his second senior cap as England face Scotland in a hotly-anticipated friendly.
Two factors have contributed to Zaha's expected inclusion in Hodgson's squad. Firstly, the 20-year-old, who made his debut against Sweden last November, has impressed for United in pre-season and secondly, England are desperately short of attacking options.
The biggest problem of all for Hodgson is Rooney. The 27-year-old is the person who is most likely to pull some magic out of the bag against the Scots just as Paul Gascoigne did at Euro '96.
But, amid a flurry of speculation about a potential move to Chelsea, Rooney has not kicked a ball in anger all summer thanks to a mixture of hamstring and shoulder injuries.
On Tuesday night David Moyes cast doubt over whether Rooney would be fit for Rio Ferdinand's testimonial on Friday, and possibly even the Community Shield, so should Hodgson select the Manchester United striker, he could well link up with the national squad having not played a match all summer.
While Hodgson will put more importance on next month's huge qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, it is safe to say the England manager could do with his leading talisman being fit for next week because of a series of injuries reduced his attacking options.
Carroll is out until September with a heel injury, Defoe is a doubt because of a hamstring niggle while Sturridge only returned to training with Liverpool on Monday after his pre-season was blighted by an ankle problem he suffered against the Republic of Ireland in May.
The good news for England is that captain Steven Gerrard is back after missing three of the last four games while Arsenal's Jack Wilshere is likely to be named in the squad after enjoying an injury-free pre-season with Arsenal.
The return of the duo will offset the disappointment of being without Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who is expected to miss out with an Achilles injury.
John Ruddy could earn a recall after missing most of last season with a thigh injury, although he too is carrying a back niggle.
Hodgson will also name an Under-21 squad today after he agreed to take charge of the managerless Young Lions for Tuesday's match against their Scottish counterparts at Bramall Lane.
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